World leaders will discuss global warming and environment during the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen. Some countries have already made headlines by highlighting their sufferings and climatic degradation. Maldives cabinet held a meeting under the waters of the Indian Ocean and Nepal's cabinet flew to the base camp of Mount Everest. Both of these countries are the victims of global warming and this is a crime that they have not committed. It is the greenhouse gases emitted from India and China that damage the atmospheric balance in this region. Maldives would soon be a forgotten part of Indian Ocean and Nepal would face floods and droughts due to fast receding glaciers.
Pakistan, on the other hand, is facing an even bigger challenge. Pakistan is located in the region that receives sparse rainfall. The north and northeastern parts receive the highest rainfall and are the places with dense sub tropical and highland forests. Nature has not been kind to Pakistan in the sense that only 4% of Pakistani land is covered under forests. The rest is equally divided between agrarian land and barren mountains and deserts. Lack of forests seriously undermines the environmental and climatic conditions in this country.
Pakistan has been bestowed with some of the biggest glaciers in the world, including the infamous Siachen where forces of both India and Pakistan are deployed for decades. They are generating hundreds of tonnes of wastes and hazardous materials. These pollutants ultimately find their way into the lifeline of Pakistan, the Indus River. There are other glaciers too and all of them are receding due to increased temperatures and less snowfall.
Although Pakistan is not a heavily industrialized nation like some of its neighbors but still has a small industrial base in Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad. None of these industrial cities have waste or fumes treatment plants. Additionally, there is no visible governmental control over the pollution these industries spread into the environment.
Add to this the lackluster environmental activism in Pakistan and the recipe is complete for a disaster. Even the Prime Minister has admitted that the country is losing a billion on a daily basis. This amounts to Rs. 365 billion ($4.4 billion) on an annual basis. Independent estimates put this amount to be as high as $10 billion. This is a large amount for an underdeveloped economy of Pakistan (the total GDP of this country is around $164.6 billion). If an impoverished country is losing around 2.5% of its GDP to environmental and climatic losses than it means that something is seriously wrong with the government and civil society of that nation.
This is not just the story of Pakistan. There are dozens of countries in this world that do not contribute to global warming but are suffering the most. Falling rain genomic has eroded the very core of these countries. The worst tragedy is the fact that the richer countries -- that are actually responsible for this global mayhem -- are still unable to get their act together.
I can continue describing the past mistakes and lack of action but no time is left for this discussion. The global warming clock is ticking and we are facing a major disaster. The time has come to walk the walk. We have seen enough rants on global warming and cosmetic measures announced for poor countries. Copenhagen is truly the best opportunity to reach a consensus. It is time that the richer countries sign an agreement to reduce their greenhouse emissions to a greater degree. Industrial giants like the United States, Japan and China need to overcome their differences. It is not another summit to waggle their diplomatic issues and disputes. Global future is at stake and we are waiting for some practical solution, not just another agreement.
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